Monday, March 18, 2019

Violins of Hope- Violins From The Holocaust Refuse To Be Silenced


By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins and Ivana Truong

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about a circle of friends that extended from my hometown of Cherry Hill, NJ to St. Paul, MN to Tel Aviv, Israel. One of those in the circle was Amnon Weinstein, a wonderful violin maker and restorer,  from Tel Aviv.
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Violins of Hope decorated with Magen David inlays

image from Violins of Hope Pheonix website
That previous blog post was written in 2011 and mentioned a project of Amnon's restoring violins (and violas and cellos) that had been played by Holocaust victims and survivors.  The instruments' survivals are a testament to the actuality of the Holocaust and to the fact that even though the Nazis tried to silence the Jewish people and our culture. THEY DID NOT SUCCEED.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Who Killed The Composer? Leclair's Mysterious Murder

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

Who killed composer, violinist, and dance master Jean-Marie Leclair? His ex-wife? The gardener? The Duke of Gramont? His son-in-law? His younger brother? The hard part about figuring out who killed Leclair is that he was disliked by so many people that the list of possible suspects with some kind of motivation was pretty long.  When he died in 1764, it seems not too many people were sorry to see him go.
Jean-Marie Leclair, the elder

         A beautiful duet with Perlman and Zukerman, Leclair's "Sonata No. 5"

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The 'Adelaide' Guadagnini - A Violin Beloved in Australia

By Andy Fein, Luthier, Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

In early February, a 1753-1757 Guadagnini violin was given on a 3-year loan to Australian violinist Natsuko Yoshimoto. Guadagnini, who we have written about previously, is considered one of the greatest Italian makers, only exceeded by Stradivarius and Del Gesu.
Natsuko Yoshimoto plays a violin.
Natsuko Yoshimoto with 1752-57 Guadagnini "The Adelaide"

Photo by Claudio Raschella

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Keeping Your Musician's Body and Mind Healthy

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins & FineViolins.com
and Ivana Truong

Playing music isn't typically thought of as a physically taxing activity, but musical injuries are surprisingly common. And the mental stress of getting to the upper echelons of musicianship (and staying there) can take a tremendous toll on your mental well being. Overuse or improper use of muscles often cause injuries like Tendonitis or Carpal Tunnel and keeping yourself in the right mindset to perform at your best can be surprisingly hard. To keep playing as long as possible, it's important for all musicians to take care of their body and mind,  as well as their instrument!

A bronze cast of a woman "playing" the violin which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. In addition to not making any sound, playing the violin this way seems very uncomfortable.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Keeping Your Musician's Hands Healthy in Winter

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,Ltd.
and Ivana Truong

If you're a musician and you live in a climate that experiences a cold and dry winter, then you know the constant fight to keep your hands and fingers from drying out, cracking, and becoming painfully stiff.
Musician's Hand Salve from Joshua Tree Skincare
I (Andy) feel eminently qualified to discuss this very subject. Because:
1) I play the violin, viola, and several other instruments.
2) My work as a violin maker/restorer causes constant roughening of my hands from tools, wood, files, and sandpaper.
3) I like to do indoor rock wall climbing as well as mountain biking all of the year.
4) I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. As I'm writing this, the outside air temperature (without any windchill included) is about -5F (-20.5C)
5) I live in a classic Craftsman style modified bungalow house built in 1939. That means a tiny kitchen with NO DISHWASHER. Actually, if you could see me writing this, I'd say "You're looking at the dishwasher!"